There are 50 shortlisted images in the Children's Eyes on Earth photo competition, with public voting still open until midnight 25th September. The photographs are by children under 17, on the themes I Love Nature and I Fear Pollution, with the general idea being to raise awareness about important environmental issues, as seen through the eyes of these young photographers.

There are some really interesting and impressive images – it's most certainly not just cute animals!


This is easily the best shot of a Red kite that I've ever managed to get, with a backlit glow and reasonably sharp eyes (click the photo for a larger version).

It's a shame this bird is only just recognisable as a kite though. It's so tatty! The distinctive V tail needs a little bit of imagination to see, and the wing feathers aren't much better. I even had to think twice about whether it really was a kite or just a buzzard, but the length of the tail and those distinctive white patches on the wings make it clear. If I was better at this game I'd also be confidently talking about the wing shape I expect.

It spent a long time flying low and slow over Butterfly World near St Albans, giving me ample opportunity to snap away, albeit with only a 18-200mm lens at the long end (the photo is fairly severely cropped and not as sharp as I'd like). I wish I'd had my 400mm lens that day!

Here pictured with yours truly is living legend David Bellamy, at Butterfly World near St Albans. I had the pleasure of meeting him as he was working there for most of the weekend in his role as a patron. He spoke passionately about the environment and that wonderful project (which I do heartily recommend). He wasn't mad keen on my picking the caterpillars off my cabbages – but I planted them in order to eat them myself!

I won't go into the details of our rambling conversation, but I will mention this delightful exchange (remembered as best I can):

Me: I run a nature blog
David: I don't understand these blog things
A nearby assistant: David – you have one!

Perhaps most importantly, I understand from David and other staff there that the massive biome is scheduled to be built soon. I do hope they get it off the ground and it turns out to be as promising as it sounds.

Jennifer sent in this great photo of an intriguing find from Bognor beach, wondering what it is. I had a faint idea that it might be 'fish teeth' in some sense, and a bit of research confirmed this to be so. What we see above is the pharyngeal plate and teeth, perhaps of a drumfish. These teeth sit back in the throat of various fish species (including goldfish) seemingly with various different uses, such as grinding food and making sounds.

So now if you see something like this on the beach, you'll know what it is.

Thanks Jennifer.

I spotted this insect flying past me and alighting briefly a few yards away. I thought it must be a hornet as it was very large (about 2cm long) and had that classic hornet coluration of yellow and rusty red, with amber wings. However closer inspection suggested it was actually a hoverfly of some sort, and a lengthy internet search showed it to be Volucella zonaria, which does indeed mimic hornets and is apparently the largest hoverfly to be found in the UK.

It seems they're not found especially widely, being confined mostly to the South and South-East of the UK.